France denounces Turkish “propaganda”; Erdogan insults Macron

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron during a group photo during a conference on Libya at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Jan.20, 2020.

The Associated Press

French authorities denounced Turkish “propaganda” against France which they claimed was aimed at stoking hatred at home and abroad, and demanded on Sunday that calls to boycott French products immediately, claiming that these attacks were the work of a “radical minority”.

Meanwhile, the President of Turkey has taken an insulting second blow against French President Emmanuel Macron in a growing and potentially high-risk dispute.

A day after saying Macron needed a head exam to excuse the cartoons of the prophet of Islam, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that the French leader had “lost his way.”

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In an unusual gesture, France announced on Saturday that it was recalling its ambassador for consultations.

The French foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday evening that its diplomats were mobilizing to ask countries where boycotts were organized or hate appeals made not to support them, and to give assurances that French citizens would be safe. .

“In many countries of the Middle East, calls to boycott French products … and more generally, calls to demonstrate against France, in sometimes hateful terms, have been relayed on social networks”, declared the French ministry Foreign Affairs. He added that such calls “distort” France’s positions on freedom of expression and conscience.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and a bloc of Muslim nations have condemned, without using any slurs, Macron’s comments last week in which he refused to condemn the publication or display of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

France considers religious satire to be one of the types of speech that falls under freedom of expression, while many Muslims consider any perceived attack on their prophet to be a serious offense. An 18-year-old boy of Chechen origin beheaded near Paris on October 16 a teacher who had shown caricatures of Muhammad in class.

While praising the professor, Macron said lastly that France will not give up its freedoms.

The Turkish leader criticized his French counterpart at a party congress on Saturday, questioning Macron’s state of mental health. The French presidency reacted with outrage, but Erdogan did not back down.

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“The person in charge of France has lost his way,” Erdogan said on Sunday. “He talks about Erdogan while he’s in bed and awake. Look at yourself first and where you are going. I said yesterday… this is a case, and it really needs to be looked at.

The evening speech by French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced “hateful and slanderous propaganda against France showing a desire to stir up hatred against us and among us”, an apparent reference to the potential reaction of the Muslim population of France, the largest in Western Europe.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted on Sunday that Macron had chosen to “encourage Islamophobia by attacking Islam rather than terrorists” and “to deliberately provoke Muslims, including his own citizens.”

The Organization for Islamic Cooperation of 57 countries, headquartered in Saudi Arabia, condemned Friday “the practice continues to make satirical cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad” and “will continue to denounce the justification for the blasphemy of any religion in the name of freedom of speech. ”

Unlike Turkey, the organization had previously condemned the assassination of the French teacher. Samuel Paty, was beheaded as he left school in a Parisian suburb. The 18-year-old murder suspect, who had become radicalized, was shot dead by police.

The teacher’s gruesome murder, which is being investigated as an act or terrorism, came as the French government is working on a bill to tackle “separatism”, including radical Islamists who , according to Macron, have created a parallel universe countering French values.

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“What’s wrong with this person called Macron with Islam and Muslims?” Erdogan, a devout Muslim, asked rhetorically on Saturday during his Justice and Development party meeting in the town of Kayseri, in central Anatolia.

It was the latest episode in a series of increasingly bitter differences between Paris and Ankara that are destroying ties between the two NATO allies. Macron’s office said on Saturday that Erdogan’s policies were “dangerous”.

The French presidential office noted in its statement on Saturday announcing the recall of the appeal of its Turkish ambassador to boycott French products. This decision, if taken seriously, could add a layer of economic ramifications to the growing diplomatic struggle.

Tensions between France and Turkey have intensified in recent months over issues such as the fighting in Syria, Libya and Nagorno-Karabakh, a region of Azerbaijan controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists.

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